The Case For Allowing Drinking At The Office

As one of only a handful of individuals in this country who can legitimately list "professional boozer" as my occupation on a tax return, I've often wondered what it must be like to operate under the behavioral constraints of a more conventional vocation in a traditional workplace. You know, like, say, a paralegal tech-type thingy or a telecommunications hooziwhatsit. And every time I ponder such a scenario, I always come to the same conclusion — that it would suck donkey balls. For me, anyway.

It's not that I think there's anything inherently wrong with having a stable career in a respectable profession that provides a steady income. Especially if you've got a family to support. God knows there are too many deadbeats in this world already. (I'm talking to you, Dad!) Hell, I'm not even averse to the notion of settling into a regular routine, just so long as it doesn't involve, you know, regularly having to do work. Or stop drinking during what the rest of the world has collectively (and fascistically) come to define as "work hours."

And some might call this extreme, but I'm just going to go ahead and call it what it is. Prejudice. It's an ugly word, sure, but I don't know a better one to describe what I have to live with. See, most employers won't even consider hiring me. And simply because I'm afflicted with Tipplitus Officinia, which the Physician's Desk Reference refers to as the chronic inability to remain sober in the workplace. Or, as you may have heard it referred to, being an Irish-Catholic from Philly.

But unlike most prejudices, which tend to be rooted out by the light of reason, this one seems to be getting worse with time. As any fan of AMC's Mad Men knows, there was a time not so long ago in this country when drinking was not only tolerated in the workplace, it was practically mandatory. In the 1960s, alcohol was celebrated as a social lubricant that made going to the office as much as fun as going home to your dysfunctional family afterwards was not. But attitudes change and, sadly, getting schnockered on the clock down at the ol' ad agency is as outmoded a social convention as smoking during pregnancy, spanking kids in public and throwing garbage at Indian chiefs on the Interstate.

Look, I'm sure it's great to be a highly-paid doctor, lawyer or operator of heavy machinery. But the fact of the matter is I have too little training for the first two and not enough testosterone for the last one. Still, even if I were qualified to get hired for those gigs, I'd probably take myself out of the running before I even got started by offering whoever was interviewing me a swig from my flask during our first meeting (the way I see it, asking for ice is a great way to break the ice). And let's face it, nobody in their right mind would ever hire a lush to argue cases in court, do gastric bypass surgery or dig up the street for a new gas main (though that last one does sound like it'd be fun after you've had a couple).

Or would they?

In a post titled The Case for Getting Drunk at Work, Slate's business and economics correspondent Matthew Yglesias cites a 2012 study that suggests boozing can be good for business. The authors of the paper Uncorking the Muse: Alcohol Intoxication Facilitates Creative Problem Solving tested the effects of moderate alcohol intoxication on creative problem solving and found that people who were buzzed were able to perceive solutions faster and more frequently than nerds those who hadn't consumed any alcohol.

Which confirms what I've always known in my gut to be true. After all, I spent some time working with the folks at Playboy where — bless Hugh Hefner's heart — they still maintain a liberal drink-at-work policy. Sixty years of results speak for themselves: Beautiful naked lady parts in every issue, hundreds upon hundreds of hilarious vintage cartoons of guys banging their secretaries and the magnum opus of celebrity reportage, David Rensin's 1983 masterpiece: "20 Questions with Yakov Smirnoff."

Of course, drinking at work might not be a good idea for every profession. There are the obvious ones with safety concerns such as pilot, lifeguard and Lil' Wayne. Then there are fields that simply frown on inventiveness. Just imagine how awkward it might get when your boss, Old McDonald, asks you why you sodomized the cows instead of slaughtering them. That's a real E-I-E-I-Uh-oh. Damn you, creativity!

Similarly, you can bet your ass your co-workers at the nuclear power plant aren't going to want to hear about your "artistic impulses" when they find out you decided to replace the deionized water and liquid sodium in the core coolant with Dr. Pepper and margarita mix. And no one at the Apple Store is going to start comparing you to Steve Jobs after you unveil the giant vodka luge you created out of hundreds of disassembled new iPhones.

But it's not all happy news. Indeed, the authors of Uncorking the Muse also found a far darker wrinkle during their investigations, one that points back to that old devil prejudice (you knew I'd bring it back to that, didn't you? If I don't speak up, then who?). Despite the fact that drinking has been proven to stimulate creativity, those who drink are perceived by others as less intelligent, thanks to something called "the imbibing idiot bias." Indeed, you don't even need to drink to be tarred with this brush. As the study states, even "people who hold an alcoholic beverage are perceived to be less intelligent than those who do not."

Against oppression on this kind of unconscious level we are left with only one option. We must go underground. Maybe you're a bourbon in the bottom drawer kind of guy. Or perhaps you go for the "this is totally coffee in my venti Starbucks cup full of beer" ploy. Me? I've got a niiiice batch of Toilet Wine brewing under my desk.

Play your cards right and I'll invite you to our Tuesday morning piss-up session in the men's room's handicapped stall. Don't worry, it'll still be wheelchair accessible, but you might want to have someone else drive back to your desk afterwards.

All right, people. Let's get some work done!

Check out Dan Dunn and Zane Lamprey's podcast, Happy Hour with Zane & Dunn. You can follow Dan on Twitter and Facebook.

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